Amina's Song: Amina's Voice, Book 2

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
Amina's Song: Amina's Voice, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Amina embraces heritage, helps refugees in charming tale.

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Educational Value

There are vivid and colorful descriptions of the sights, smells, and tastes Amina experiences on her visit to Pakistan. Shopping at the vibrant and crowded Anarkali Bazaar for pomegranate juice, colored lacquer boxes, and wonderful jewelry. Driving through streets crowded with rickshaws and trunks painted in bright flower designs. Drinking tea rich and milky with spices and eating fresh mangos and pistachios. Smelling the night air filled with the scent of flowers and visiting the 17th century Wazir Khan Mosque, famous for its tilework and frescoes.

Positive Messages

Even if you and your friends are moving in different directions and are beginning to have different interests, you can still support and cheer one another on.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Amina and her family are all volunteers. Parents and kids pitch in with an Islamic Center project to help newly arrived refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Democratic Republic of Congo by furnishing apartments for them and organizing welcome dinners. Inspired by this, Amina encourages Soojin to make volunteerism the theme of her campaign for class president and has an idea for a volunteer project of her own, teaching kids who can't afford piano lessons. Her brother, Mustafa, wants to organize a basketball team for refugee boys that will also offer tutoring in English. Amina is Pakistani American and her friends are of diverse heritages: Korean, Pakistani, Egyptian/French.

Violence

Her presentation on Malala Yousafzai for her history class includes that Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban. There's a reference to an event from the previous book, Amina's Voice: a fire that destroyed parts of her family's mosque and the vandalizing of the Islamic Center.

Sex
Amina thinks about whether she wants Nico as a friend or a possible boyfriend, but decides she only thinks of him as a friend. Brief mention that her friend, Emily, has a crush on a boy.
 
Language
Consumerism

Characters eat at KFC, take Uber, drink Sprite, use WhatsApp, and eat Skittles. Passing mention of YouTube, The Music Man, The Voice, and Taylor Swift.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

At their trial, the teens who vandalized the mosque and Islamic Center say they were drinking and what started as a prank got out of control.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hena Khan's Amina's Song is a sequel to Amina's Voice. Amina, her parents, and older brother, Mustafa, have spent part of the summer visiting relatives in Pakistan. Amina has loved her visit and is eager to share everything wonderful about Pakistan when she returns home to Wisconsin to start seventh grade. But even her best friends Soojin, Rabiya, and Emily don't seem interested. When she chooses Malala Yousafzai for a history class project, she hopes Malala's story will show her classmates the strength and determination of Pakistani girls, but they come away seeing Pakistan only as a violent place. Confused and saddened, she begins to put her feelings into song lyrics. Violence includes a mention of how Malala was shot by the Taliban and references to an event from Amina's Voice in which a fire destroyed parts of Amina's mosque and the Islamic Center was vandalized.

 

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What's the story?

AMINA'S SONG begins in Lahore, Pakistan. Amina, her parents, and 16-year-old brother are visiting relatives, and the visit has been a mixture of fun and frustration for the about to be seventh-grader. She may be a Pakistani American girl on the outside, but she doesn't know how to speak Urdu or understand her relatives' sense of humor and feels a bit like an imposter around them. Amina has loved the weeks she's spent in Lahore and is eager to share the experience (and the hundreds of photos and dozens of videos she's taken) with her friends back home in Wisconsin. But even her very best friends, Soojin, Emily, and Rabiya, don't seem all that interested. When she announces her decision to chose Malala Yousafzai for her Living Wax Museum project, she finds some of her classmates now see Pakistan only as a dangerous place to be an outspoken girl. Confused and saddened by their reactions, Amina tries to sort out her feelings by writing song lyrics. Lyrics that remain only on paper until she meets a Nico, a new boy at school, who offers to make a recording of her song. Seventh grade for Amina is also about volunteering with a refugee resettlement project at her Islamic Center, serving as campaign manager of Soojin's run for class president, having ongoing conversations with her mother about what is or is not appropriate clothing, and telling everyone (again and again) that she and Nico are just friends.

Is it any good?

This charming multicultural story is all about inspiring kids to speak up, be proud of who they are, take time to help others, and discover their own unique voices. The characters in Amina's Song are of diverse heritages (Korean, Pakistani, Egyptian/French), but they're all trying to navigate challenges that will be familiar to almost any young reader: figuring out how to fit in, being absolutely terrified to speak in front of a class, making the right decision about what to wear to a school dance, being a new kid in school, and watching (somewhat fearfully) as your best friends begin to explore new interests of their own. 

 

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about who the characters in Amina's Song chose to portray in their Living Wax Museum projects. Is there a historical figure whose identity you'd like to assume?

  • What things (food, holidays, traditions) from your family's cultural heritage would you like to share with your friends and classmates?

  • What volunteer opportunities can kids take part in at your school or in your community? What are the most important lessons you can learn from being a volunteer?

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Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of middle school and Muslim characters

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